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Science

Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-scratch-your-back-you-publish-my-paper dept.
blackbeak (1227080) writes The Washington Post reports that the Journal of Vibration and Control's review system was hijacked by a ring of reviewers. 60 articles have been retracted as a result. "After a 14-month investigation, JVC determined the ring involved “aliases” and fake e-mail addresses of reviewers — up to 130 of them — in an apparently successful effort to get friendly reviews of submissions and as many articles published as possible by Chen and his friends.'On at least one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he created,' according to the SAGE announcement."
Government

FTC Files Suit Against Amazon For In-App Purchases 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-fool-his-kids-and-his-money dept.
Charliemopps writes The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Amazon for illegally billing parents for in-app purchases of digital goods prior to requiring a password for making purchases. "The FTC's complaint, filed Thursday, asks the court to force Amazon to refund the money to those customers. In-app purchases typically involve virtual goods bought within an app, like extra coins or energy in a game, according to the FTC. Some bills totaled hundreds of dollars, and some virtual goods cost as much as $99.99." We recently told you about Amazon's refusal to reach a settlement over these FTC complaints.
Space

SpaceX Wins FAA Permission To Build a Spaceport In Texas 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-build dept.
Jason Koebler writes SpaceX just got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a 56.5-acre spaceport along the Gulf of Mexico on the Texas-Mexico border—a huge step toward actually making the spaceport a reality. Wednesday, the FAA, which handles all commercial space launch permitting in the United States, issued what's known as a "Record of Decision" that suggests the agency would allow the company to launch 10 Falcon 9 rockets and two Falcon Heavy rockets per year out of the spaceport, through at least 2025.
Science

Hints of Life's Start Found In a Giant Virus 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-a-big-one dept.
An anonymous reader points out this update on the world's largest virus, discovered in March. Chantal Abergel and Jean-Michel Claverie were used to finding strange viruses. The married virologists at Aix-Marseille University had made a career of it. But pithovirus, which they discovered in 2013 in a sample of Siberian dirt that had been frozen for more than 30,000 years, was more bizarre than the pair had ever imagined a virus could be. In the world of microbes, viruses are small — notoriously small. Pithovirus is not. The largest virus ever discovered, pithovirus is more massive than even some bacteria. Most viruses copy themselves by hijacking their host's molecular machinery. But pithovirus is much more independent, possessing some replication machinery of its own. Pithovirus's relatively large number of genes also differentiated it from other viruses, which are often genetically simple — the smallest have a mere four genes. Pithovirus has around 500 genes, and some are used for complex tasks such as making proteins and repairing and replicating DNA. "It was so different from what we were taught about viruses," Abergel said. The stunning find, first revealed in March, isn't just expanding scientists' notions of what a virus can be. It is reframing the debate over the origins of life."
AT&T

Senator Al Franken Accuses AT&T of "Skirting" Net Neutrality Rules 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
McGruber writes In a letter to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission and the Department of Justice, Senator Al Franken warned that letting AT&T acquire Direct TV could turn AT&T into a gatekeeper to the mobile Internet. Franken also complained that AT&T took inappropriate steps to block Internet applications like Google Voice and Skype: "AT&T has a history of skirting the spirit, and perhaps the letter' of the government's rules on net neutrality, Franken wrote."
The Almighty Buck

The Oatmeal Convinces Elon Musk To Donate $1 Million To Tesla Museum 78

Posted by timothy
from the carreon-should-donate-too dept.
Ars Technica notes (as does Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman) that Elon Musk has agreed to donate $1 million towards the restoration of Nikola Tesla's old lab as a museum, a project that Inman has been pushing for some time now. And if you happen to get there in a Tesla, you're in luck: Musk is also planning to install one of his company's superchargers in the parking lot. (At the other end of the east coast, you can visit a very different kind of Tesla museum.)
Music

Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment? 502

Posted by timothy
from the won't-fit-in-my-phone dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Back in the day (which is a scientific measurement for anyone who used to walk to school during snowstorms, uphill, both ways), integrated audio solutions had trouble earning respect. Many enthusiasts considered a sound card an essential piece to the PC building puzzle. It's been 25 years since the first Sound Blaster card was introduced, a pretty remarkable feat considering the diminished reliance on discrete audio in PCs, in general. These days, the Sound Blaster ZxR is Creative's flagship audio solution for PC power users. It boasts a signal-to-noise (SNR) of 124dB that Creative claims is 89.1 times better than your motherboard's integrated audio solution. It also features a built-in headphone amplifier, beamforming microphone, a multi-core Sound Core3D audio processor, and various proprietary audio technologies. While gaming there is no significant performance impact or benefit when going from onboard audio to the Sound Blaster ZxR. However, the Sound Blaster ZxR produced higher-quality in-game sound effects and it also produces noticeably superior audio in music and movies, provided your speakers can keep up."
Google

On the Significance of Google's New Cardboard (Video) 35

Posted by Roblimo
from the recycling-a-post-title-is-good-for-the-environment dept.
On June 29, 2014, Timothy started a Slashdot post with these words: 'Last week at Google I/O, the company introduced Cardboard, its cheap-and-cheerful (it's made of cardboard, after all) approach to nearly instant VR viewing.' Several commenters noted that Viewmaster has been doing something similar for over 70 years; that you can get a slicker 3-D adapter for your smartphone from Durovis, with the Vrizzmo VR Goggles and vrAse coming soon; and that you can buy an iPhone/iPod Touch-only 3-D viewer for about $8 (at the time this was typed), which is a whole lot less than the price of most third-party Cardboard kits that are getting ready to hit the market. || The Google person behind The Cardboard is VP Clay Bavor, whose day job is overseeing Google apps. Clay says you are welcome to make your own Cardboard from scratch instead of buying one (or a kit) from someone else, and of course you can write all the software for it you like. || You may (or may not) remember that Timothy ended that June 29 post about Cardboard with a promise that before long we'd have 'a video introduction to Cardboard with Google VP Clay Bavor.' So here it is, as promised. (Alternate Video Link)
Government

After NSA Spying Flap, Germany Asks CIA Station Chief to Depart 219

Posted by timothy
from the wir-werden-wissen dept.
The Washington Post reports that Gemany's government has asked the CIA station chief in that country to leave. From the article, which points out the move comes after several high-profile instances of U.S. spying on German citiens, including Chancellor Angela Merkl:. "A day earlier, federal prosecutors in Germany said police had searched the office and apartment of an individual with ties to the German military who is suspected of working for U.S. intelligence. Those raids followed the arrest of an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence service who was accused of selling secrets to the CIA. ... For years, Germany has sought to be included in a group of countries with which the United States has a non-espionage pact. Those nations include Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The Obama administration and that of George W. Bush both resisted such entreaties, in part because many U.S. intelligence officials believe that there are too many areas where German and U.S. security interests diverge."
Google

How Google Map Hackers Can Destroy a Business 132

Posted by timothy
from the you-aren't-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Wired about the one big problem that comes with crowdsourced data: enough eyeballs may make all bugs shallow, but may not fare as well against malice and greed: Maps are dotted with thousands of spam business listings for nonexistent locksmiths and plumbers. Legitimate businesses sometimes see their listings hijacked by competitors or cloned into a duplicate with a different phone number or website. In January, someone bulk-modified the Google Maps presence of thousands of hotels around the country, changing the website URLs to a commercial third-party booking site ... Small businesses are the usual targets. ....These attacks happen because Google Maps is, at its heart, a massive crowdsourcing project, a shared conception of the world that skilled practitioners can bend and reshape in small ways using tools like Google's Mapmaker or Google Places for Business. ... In February, an SEO consultant-turned-whistleblower named Bryan Seely demonstrated the risk dramatically when he set up doppelganger Google Maps listings for the offices of the FBI and Secret Service..
Crime

Police Recording Confirms NYPD Flew At a Drone and Never Feared Crashing 310

Posted by timothy
from the where-is-your-flightplan? dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes An air traffic control recording confirms that a New York Police Department helicopter flew at a drone hovering near the George Washington Bridge earlier this week—not the other way around. What's more, police had no idea what to charge the drone pilots with, and never appeared to fear a crash with the drone.
Two men were arrested Monday on felony reckless endangerment charges after the NYPD said the two flew their drone "very close" to a law enforcement chopper, causing the police helicopter to take evasive maneuvers. Air traffic control recordings suggest that only happened after the chopper pilot decided to chase the drone.
Bug

Today In Year-based Computer Errors: Draft Notices Sent To Men Born In the 1800s 205

Posted by timothy
from the pa-dmv-never-did-me-any-favors-either dept.
sandbagger (654585) writes with word of a Y2K-style bug showing up in Y2K14: "The glitch originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles during an automated data transfer of nearly 400,000 records. The records of males born between 1993 and 1997 were mixed with those of men born a century earlier. The federal agency didn't know it because the state uses a two-digit code to indicate birth year." I wonder where else two-digit years are causing problems; I still see lots of paper forms that haven't made the leap yet to four digits.
Microsoft

Microsoft Settles With No-IP After Malware Takedown 83

Posted by timothy
from the semi-mulligan dept.
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes It's been a weird couple of weeks for Microsoft. On June 30 the company announced its latest malware takedown operation, which included a civil law suit against Vitalwerks, a small Nevada hosting provider, and the seizure of nearly two dozen domains the company owned. Now, 10 days later, Microsoft has not only returned all of the seized domains but also has reached a settlement with Vitalwerks that resolves the legal action. Some in the security research community criticized Microsoft harshly for what they saw as heavy handed tactics. Within a few days of the initial takedown and domain seizure Microsoft returned all of the domains to Vitalwerks, which does business as No-IP.com. On Wednesday, the software giant and the hosting provider released a joint statement saying that they had reached a settlement on the legal action. "Microsoft has reviewed the evidence provided by Vitalwerks and enters into the settlement confident that Vitalwerks was not knowingly involved with the subdomains used to support malware. Those spreading the malware abused Vitalwerks' services," the companies said in a joint statement. "Microsoft identified malware that had escaped Vitalwerks' detection. Upon notification and review of the evidence, Vitalwerks took immediate corrective action allowing Microsoft to identify victims of this malware. The parties have agreed to permanently disable Vitalwerks subdomains used to control the malware."
Businesses

Apple Gets Its First Batch of iPhone Chips From TSMC 45

Posted by timothy
from the pronounced-just-like-it-looks dept.
redletterdave (2493036) notes that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has shipped its first batch of microprocessors to Apple as the iPhone maker looks to diversify its overseas suppliers. Apple will continue to rely on Samsung for its microprocessors, but as the rivalry between Apple and Samsung heats up in the mobile and soon wearable arenas, the deal with TSMC allows Apple to be less reliant on Samsung and therefore have more leverage with respect to price negotiations for future chips, as TSMC has supplanted Samsung Electronics as Apple's chief chipmaker for iPhones and iPads. Since 2011, Apple has been striking deals with other display and chip makers around Asia to reduce its dependence on Samsung. As a result of this slowdown in sales, Samsung on Monday announced operating income for its fiscal second quarter had sunk to a two-year low, blaming 'weak' sales of low- and medium-end smartphones, strong competition and subpar demand.
It may not be a household name like Intel or AMD, but TSMC is the world's biggest chip maker by revenue.
Transportation

Hacking a Tesla Model S Could Net $10,000 Prize 77

Posted by timothy
from the usb-port-under-the-gas-cap dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "It seems there's a new hack challenge set every week, but this time, it seems different. A challenge has been thrown down to hack a Tesla Model S with a $10,000 prize. The organizers of a computer security conference have set the challenge and it's open to anyone that registers for the Syscan conference. Taking place in Beijing from July 16-17, the rules for the hack competition haven't been revealed yet but a Model S will be on display for hackers to try their luck on. It's important to note that Tesla itself isn't involved in the competition in any official capacity, nor does it support the competition. If successful, this wouldn't be the first time a Tesla Model S has been hacked. In that instance Tesla was quick to warn people that making changes in the Model S' software would immediately void the car's warranty. Given the car's high-tech nature, it's no shock Tesla's taking security seriously. With $10,000 on the line, it'll be interesting to see if anyone manages to crack the code."
Crime

Maldives Denies Russian Claims That Secret Service Kidnapped a Politician's Son 100

Posted by timothy
from the 30-year-old-napping-is-totally-different dept.
Rei (128717) writes As was previously reported here, the Russian government has accused the U.S. Secret Service of kidnapping the son of ultranationalist LDPR MP Valery Seleznev in the Maldives. The son, Roman Seleznev, stands accused of running one of the world's largest carding operations, with others charged in the affair having already been convicted; however, Roman had until recently been considered out of reach in Russia. Now the Maldives has struck back against these claims, insisting that they arrested him on an Interpol Red Notice and transferred him to the US, as they are legally required as an Interpol member state to do. "No outsider came here to conduct an operation," president Abdulla Yameen stated. "No officials from another country can come here to arrest anyone. The government has the necessary documentation to prove it." Note: the Slashdot post linked didn't include the accusations of kidnapping, but the Krebs On Security link above mentions these claims.
Education

Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University 136

Posted by timothy
from the congratulations-and-good-wishes dept.
When Linus Torvalds first announced his new operating system project ("just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu"), he aimed the announcement at users of Minix for a good reason: Minix (you can download the latest from the Minix home page) was the kind of OS that tinkerers could afford to look at, and it was intended as an educational tool. Minix's creator, Professor Andrew Stuart "Andy" Tanenbaum, described his academic-oriented microkernel OS as a hobby, too, in the now-famous online discussion with Linus and others. New submitter Thijssss (655388) writes with word that Tanenbaum, whose educational endeavors led indirectly to the birth of Linux, is finally retiring. "He has been at the Vrije Universiteit for 43 years, but everything must eventually end."
United Kingdom

UK Gov't Plans To Push "Emergency" Surveillance Laws 147

Posted by timothy
from the back-in-line-citizen dept.
beaker_72 (1845996) writes The Guardian reports that the UK government has unveiled plans to introduce emergency surveillance laws into the UK parliament at the beginning of next week. These are aimed at reinforcing the powers of security services in the UK to force service providers to retain records of their customers phone calls and emails. The laws, which have been introduced after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that existing laws invaded individual privacy, will receive cross-party support and so will not be subjected to scrutiny or challenged in Parliament before entering the statute books. But as Tom Watson (Labour backbench MP and one of few dissenting voices) has pointed out, the ECJ ruling was six weeks ago, so why has the government waited until now to railroad something through. Unless of course they don't want it scrutinised too closely.
Math

Mathematicians Solve the Topological Mystery Behind the "Brazuca" Soccer Ball 144

Posted by timothy
from the nature-is-scrambling-to-keep-up dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "In the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, teams used a new kind of ball called the Telstar made from 12 black pentagonal panels and 20 white hexagonal panels. This ball has icosahedral symmetry and its own molecular analogue in the form of C60, the famous soccer ball-shaped fullerene. In 2006, a new ball called the TeamGeist was introduced at the World Cup in Germany. This was made of 14 curved panels that together gave it tetrahedral symmetry. This also had a molecular analogue with tetrahedral symmetry among the fullerenes. Now teams at the current World Cup in Brazil are playing with yet another design: the Brazuca, a ball constructed from six panels each with a four-leaf clover shape that knit together like a jigsaw to form a sphere. This has octahedral symmetry. But here's question that has been puzzling chemists, topologists and..errr...soccer fans: is there a molecular analogue of the Brazuca? Or put another way, can fullerenes have octahedral symmetry? Now a pair of mathematicians have finally solved this problem. They've shown that fullerenes can indeed have octahedral symmetry just like the Brazuca, although in addition to hexagonal and pentagonal carbon rings, the ball-shaped molecules must also have rings of 4 and 8 carbon atoms. The next stage is to actually synthesis one of these fullerenes, perhaps something to keep chemists occupied until the 2018 World Cup in Russia."
Security

India's National Informatics Centre Forged Google SSL Certificates 107

Posted by timothy
from the who-can-you-trust? dept.
NotInHere (3654617) writes As Google writes on its Online Security Blog, the National Informatics Centre of India (NIC) used its intermediate CA certificate, issued by Indian CCA, to issue several unauthorized certificates for Google domains, allowing it to do Man in the middle attacks. Possible impact however is limited, as, according to Google, the root certificates for the CA were only installed on Windows, which Firefox doesn't use — and for the Chrom{e,ium} browser, the CA for important Google domains is pinned to the Google CA. According to its website, the NIC CA has suspended certificate issuance, and according to Google, its root certificates were revoked by Indian CCA.
IBM

IBM To Invest $3 Billion For Semiconductor Research 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-bucks dept.
Taco Cowboy points out that many news outlets are reporting that IBM plans to spend $3 billion on semiconductor research and development in the next five years. The first goal is to build chips whose electronic components, called transistors, have features measuring just 7 nanometers, the company announced Wednesday. For comparison, that distance is about a thousandth the width of a human hair, a tenth the width of a virus particle, or the width of 16 potassium atoms side by side. The second goal is to choose among a range of more radical departures from today's silicon chip technology -- a monumental engineering challenge necessary to sustain progress in the computing industry. Among the options are carbon nanotubes and graphene; silicon photonics; quantum computing; brainlike architectures; and silicon substitutes that could run faster even if components aren't smaller. "In the next 10 years, we believe there will be fundamentally new systems that are much more efficient at solving problems or solving problems that are unsolvable today," T.C. Chen, IBM Research's vice president of science and technology, told CNET
The Courts

Judge Shoots Down "Bitcoin Isn't Money" Argument In Silk Road Trial 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-fought-the-law dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with the latest in the case against the alleged creator of the Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht. The government and legal community may still be arguing over whether bitcoin can be defined as "money." But the judge presiding over the landmark Silk Road drug case has declared that it's at least close enough to get you locked up for money laundering. In a ruling released Wednesday, Judge Katherine Forrest denied a motion by Ross Ulbricht, the 30-year-old alleged creator of the Silk Road billion-dollar online drug bazaar, to dismiss all criminal charges against him. Those charges include narcotics trafficking conspiracy, money laundering, and hacking conspiracy charges, as well as a "continuing criminal enterprise" charge that's better known as the "kingpin" statute used to prosecute criminal gang and cartel leaders.
EU

Single European Copyright Title On the Horizon 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-law-to-rule-them-all dept.
presroi (657709) writes "It has been 13 years after the last harmonization effort of copyright within the European Union and this period might soon be over. After the election of a new European Parliament in May this year, Jean-Claude Juncker has been nominated to become the new President of the European Commission. He has named a unified copyright his top priority, a statement repeated today at a hearing before the Greens/EFA group in the European parliament (transcript of the question by MEP Julia Reda and his answer in German, Video recording). These statements are coinciding with the upcoming release of a report by the General Directorate in charge of copyright, of which an advanced draft has been already leaked to the internet. The report analyzes four possible policy options, one of which is the introduction of a Single EU Copyright title."

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